Tripura, West Bengal, Bangladesh hold bus service trial run

Agartala, June 3 (IANS) Three buses belonging to the Bangladesh, West Bengal and Tripura governments left for Kolkata from here on Wednesday amidst singing of songs to reinforce ties between India and Bangladesh.

These buses were part of the trial run for the Agartala-Dhaka-Kolkata direct bus service.

Carrying officials of Bangladesh, West Bengal and Tripura governments, these buses of the Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC), Tripura Road Transport Corporation (TRTC) and West Bengal Surface Transport Corporation (WBSTC) will reach Dhaka enroute to Kolkata.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh Premier Sheikh Hasina are scheduled to flag off the bus services between Agartala and Kolkata via Bangladesh. And, Dhaka and Guwahati via Meghalaya capital Shillong and Bangladesh city Sylhet during Modi’s two-day visit to the neighbouring country from June 6.

A similar trial run on the Dhaka-Sylhet-Tamabil-Dawki-Shillong-Guwahati route was conducted from May 22-26 to study the road conditions and other navigational issues. The first trial run on the 500 km route was held in December last year.

TRTC chairman and veteran tribal leader Rajendra Reang sent off the three buses from the TRTC’s international bus terminus depot in Krishnagar here amid singing of songs to further fortify India-Bangladesh friendship.

“The officials of Bangladesh, West Bengal and Tripura government met here on Tuesday and discussed various details including bus fare. The meeting remained inconclusive as all the details would be finalised at the appropriate level of India and Bangladesh government,” Tripura transport minister Manik Dey told IANS.

Dey, who presided over the meeting, said it also discussed the number of days of operation of buses between Agartala and Kolkata in a week and the shortest possible route.

Also, as part of the trial run for the Agartala-Dhaka-Kolkata bus service, a Volvo bus carrying an 11-member delegation from the West Bengal government left from Kolkata’s Salt Lake international bus terminus on Monday morning and reached Dhaka on the same night. It arrived in Agartala on Tuesday afternoon.

A BRTC bus carrying their government officials and led by the country’s road transport and highways division’s joint secretary Mohammad Abdur Rouf Khan also reached here on Tuesday afternoon as part of the trial run.

Stating that “India-Bangladesh relations are now at the historic moment”, Khan said: “The bus service between India and Bangladesh would further strengthen the relationship between the people of two countries.”

West Bengal transport department principal secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay, who led his government’s official team, on Wednesday said: “After the introduction of the bus service, people of India and Bangladesh would come closer to each other.”

The proposed Agartala-Kolkata bus service via Bangladesh is expected to facilitate the people of the mountainous northeastern region to reach Kolkata and visit other Indian states, reducing the distance by over 1,000 km.

The distance between Agartala and Kolkata via Guwahati by road is 1,650 km. But the distance between Agartala and Kolkata via Bangladesh is only around 500 km.

The cross-border bus service was approved at a recent meeting between Bangladesh Road Transport Minister Obaidul Quader and Indian Minister Nitin Gadkari in New Delhi.

On Tuesday, Tripura’s Transport Minister Manik Dey said the state government has been demanding direct bus service between Tripura and other northeastern states and Kolkata through Bangladesh for a long time for easy movement of people from the region.

“Currently, the Agartala-Dhaka and Dhaka-Agartala bus services are being run for four days a week and the periodicity is likely to be increased due to the demand of the Kolkata-bound passengers,” a Tripura transport department official said.

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